Remember your servants, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yisrael, how do you swear to them by Yourself and say to them: I will make your children as many as the stars in the sky, and I will give to your descendants the whole land that I talk, to have forever. "Exodus 32:13 (The Israel Bible ™)
The ancestors of the Jews received a divine commitment that their descendants would be as many as the stars in heaven – but they were not guaranteed that their descendants would travel into space.
Colonel Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut who disappeared in February 2003 along with six other crew members from the failed NAS mission Colombia, reaches space but tragically falls and is killed at the end of the mission.
Israel? A superpower? Indeed. The country has built and sent foreign rockets to many mini satellites into space for various uses. One of them, called Venus, built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and launched with the help of the French space agency last year as the world's smallest satellite of its kind and Israel's first environmental satellite.
Environmental satellites have become very important in recent years because of problems on Earth resulting from population increases, reduced space for agriculture, pollution and natural disasters.
Venus is observing fields and nature from space for environmental research, monitoring land conditions, forestry, agriculture, quality of water sources and more.
But now, Israel will launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon, so it joins three superpowers – the US, Russia and China – who have done it. Called SpaceIL, private projects to reach the moon have just received encouragement, from Sylvan Adams, Canadian Jewish and philanthropic businessman who was behind the launch – for the first time – Giro d & # 39; bicycle race in Italy last May in Israel and not in Italy. Adams gave $ 5 million for the project.
SpaceIL spacecraft, called Sparrow and weighing less than 600 kilograms, it is scheduled to be abandoned in early 2019 from Cape Canaveral, Florida with SPACEX Falcon 9. It has placed earth stations around the world to enable communication with spacecraft.
Adams announced his contribution as part of a special tour that took place this week at an Israeli Aerospace Industries factory where the spacecraft is being assembled. Adams, who is currently celebrating his 60th birthday, said at the event that "this contribution to strengthening the Israeli space program and encouraging education for excellence and innovation among the young generation of Israel is the best gift I can give. I believe that sending the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon will inspire Israeli children and encourage many of them to become interested in science and technology – and believe that everything is possible.
SpaceIL President Morris Kahn, who himself donated $ 27 million for the project, said: "I thank Sylvan Adams for his generous contribution to our efforts. He joined an extraordinary donor group with a shared vision – to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. You believe that joining will help. We have to collect the remaining money to complete our ambitious mission. "
Dr. Ido Antebi, CEO of IAI, added: "We are advancing in a series of tests conducted at the IAI space plant. At the same time, we are increasing activities to promote science and technology education in Israel, ahead of the launch. "
Inbal Kreiss, deputy general manager of the MBT space division, said: "IAI is proud to partner with SpaceIL in the development and construction of spacecraft, extraordinary technological achievements that are an important part of the capabilities of civilian space in Israeli technology and science."
Since the formation of SpaceIL, the mission to land Israeli spacecraft on the moon has become an Israeli national project with educational values. It was previously funded by Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Sammy Sagol, Lynn Schusterman, Steven Grand and others. Kahn chose to fund an important part of the project by donating $ 27 million.
The founders of the team besides Kahn were Yariv Bash, a former electronics and computer engineer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and currently the CEO of the company Flytrex; Kfir Damari, lecturer in computer networks; and Yonatan Winetraub, previously a satellite systems engineer at IAI, and currently a biophysical doctoral candidate at Stanford University.
Last October, SpaceIL and the Israeli Space Agency announced a collaboration with NASA that would allow SpaceIL to increase its ability to track and communicate with spacecraft before, during and after landing on the moon. Over the years, additional partners have been added from the private sector, government companies and academics; These include the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, the Israeli Space Agency, the Science and Technology Department and Israel's major telecommunications company, Bezeq.
SpaceIL is Israel's only competitor in the international competition, Google Lunar XPRIZE. To win the first prize of $ 20 million, competitors were asked to do a soft landing on the moon; travel 500 meters, above or below the surface of the moon; and send high definition videos and images back to Earth. In the end, no prizes were given, but SpaceIL said it was determined to continue its mission and launch a spacecraft, despite international competition.
After launch, Sparrow will do a maneuver to be captured in the moon's orbit and spin around the moon for two to four weeks. In the right orbit around the landing site, it will reduce speed until the soft landing on the surface of the moon.
SpaceIL aims to promote in Israel the "Apollo effect," as it encouraged interest in space among American youth – to encourage the next generation of Israeli children to choose science, engineering, technology and mathematics. Despite its technological superiority, Israel faces a shortage of serious scientists and engineers.
But SpaceIL is not waiting for a landing to create an impact. To date, SpaceIL has lectured to more than 900,000 children in classrooms throughout Israel, and developed curricula, videos and online content to reach even more.
According to SpaceIL activists, "space and space exploration are the next frontier. The space industry has produced satellite TV, water filters, UV glasses and many other discoveries. Our success will be a source of pride for Israel, while introducing the world to new and innovative ways to explore space. In addition, the space industry has the potential to become the main growth engine for the Israeli economy. "